Monday, September 18, 2006

Property Owner Swamps Hendry Clerk With Petitions

1,577 Petitions Filed Today By CHL, Inc. To Lower Tax Assessments

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Property owners in record numbers are filing petitions to have their Hendry county property tax assessments lowered. Today is the last day under the law for such filings at the Hendry Circuit Court for Hendry property owners.  CHL, Inc. also known as Country Homes and Land and various other corporate names, filed petitions on 1,577 parcels of mostly Port LaBelle lots they own.  Property assessments on Port LaBelle quarter acre lots went from around $12,500 in 2005 to $34,000 this year. Other areas all around Hendry county were similarly assessed with huge increases from last year.

After property assessment increases of up to 300 percent this year for area real estate owners, tax payers for the first time in history, have in huge numbers asked for hearings before the Hendry Value Adjustment Board to lower their property's assessed values, that are yearly calculated by the Hendry Property Appraiser's Office. Last year a few dozen real estate parcels went before the board on hopes of lowering the tax burden to the property owner, but this year filings have increased a hundred fold.  One of the county's largest individual lot owners, CHL, Inc. brought in baskets of petitions around noontime to the second-floor Hendry Clerk's Office at the county courthouse. The deadline for petition filing is 5 p.m.

A CHL representative said the company believes it has ample evidence in the form of comparable property sales to hopefully convince the Adjustment Board to lower it's Port LaBelle vacant lots' assessed values.  The burden is on the taxpayer however, to prove an error, as the state law says the presumption in all such hearings is that the Hendry Property Appraiser's office is correct in their assessment of market values.  Market value is generally the price a seller would get after subtracting usual costs of a sale including attorney, broker and other real estate fees. The tax assessors office usually estimates these costs to be about 15% of the sale price.

Property owners this year got hit with a double whammy. Not only did their property's assessment values increase, but local governments and special districts hit them with increased "real" tax rates as well. Government officials usually excuse the increases by saying they have increased costs for the services they provide the public, but neglect to disclose fully that they are getting increased incomes as the real estate assessed values increase dramatically.  The increased costs to property tax payers should soon be trickling down to everyone, including non-property owners. Tenants should see an increase in rents while consumers may see higher prices on most everything as increased taxes slowly pass from business and farm property owner to the everyday citizen.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:02 AM

    With all of the petitions what was the outcome. I can not believe that taxes on one lot went from $300.00 to over $600.00. What a rip off to the public and this does not promote anyone wanting to move to Hendry county. I guess this is one way to keep the population low.